Children’s-YA Book Editing

Author-editor Jill Santopolo
Author-editor Jill Santopolo
Editor Listings & Overview

Editor Interview: Angelella Editors on Freelance Editing by Stephani Martinell Eaton from Cynsations. PEEK: “I want to be able to give a big-picture critique that uses the text to illustrate my points, so that my client understands why I recommend certain revisions. And I also make sure to look for elements I think are done well, because I always want my clients to feel like I’m a coach in their corner, cheering them on to do better, rather than a critic only looking to wield my red pencil.”

Editors from Melanin in YA: Your Source for all things Black in YA.

Who’s Moving Where? Editorial Staff Changes At Children’s Book Publishers by Harold Underdown from The Purple Crayon. Your cheat-sheet to the musical chairs that is children’s editorial.

Writing Conference Critiques

Preparing for Critique Sessions from Editorial Anonymous. PEEK [from Questions Not to Ask]: “‘Why is getting published so hard?’ (No matter how sympathetic the editor seems, don’t start whining to her. Be professional, cheerful, and accepting of critique. We meet a broad spectrum of people at conferences, and these qualities usually mark the people who have a chance at making it in the industry.)”

Editor Insights

Interview with HarperCollins Senior Editor, Maria Barbo by Christine Van Zandt from Kite Tales. Peek: “Read. Be aware of where the book you are writing fits into the marketplace. What’s its arena? To what other books would you compare yours? And work on a compelling elevator pitch or positioning statement.”

Interview With Shelby Lees, Senior Editor, National Geographic Kids from Children’s Illustrators. Peek: “I think for too long there’s been a pretty clear line drawn between educational/non-fiction publishing and trade publishing. A successful book needs to have elements of both: all of the trade-book hook, buzz, and energy plus all of the deep knowledge about how to present complex information.”

Editor Interview: Molly O’Neil on Middle Grade Books from Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. PEEK: “… there can be a fine line between stories that feel familiar and those that feel, well, dull. This is a big reason I often encourage my authors to push past their initial ideas and explore the unknown creative wilds beyond the very first idea/solution/problem/mystery/story point/etc that they think of – because often the really fresh ideas live deep in writer’s minds, not at the very forefront.”

Industry Interview: Andrew Rushton of NordSüd Verlag & Beth Terrill of NorthSouth by Elisabeth Norton from Cynsations. PEEK: “I recently talked with Andrew Rushton, Associate Publisher with NordSüd Verlag (Switzerland), and Beth Terrill, Editor, NorthSouth Books (U.S.), to learn more about publishing in two different markets.”

Editor Interview: Levine Querido’s Nick Thomas on Perspectives & Accessibility by Elisabeth Norton from Cynsations. PEEK: “I think the more that we can do away with that reliance on past “comp titles,” and the more we can entrust great diverse creators and editors to do the books of their hearts—in whatever form that takes—the better and more successful we’ll be as publishers. The books may not look like yesterday’s bestsellers but what could be more exciting than that?”

Manuscript Acquisitions

The Odds of Getting Published Stink and Why You Shouldn’t Care by Harold Underdown from The Purple Crayon. PEEK: “Those 8,000 manuscripts received by the publisher do not all have an equal chance of getting published. Of those 8,000, at least 7,500 are going to be rejected almost as soon as they are opened, as a reader notes poor writing of one kind or another, a type of manuscript that the publisher never publishes, or some other critical flaw.”

The Acquisition Process by Harold Underdown from The Purple Crayon. PEEK: Part of the reason why the process can be difficult and time-consuming is simply that it couldn’t possibly be more important to publishers. As noted above, this is how publishers build their future, and they want to get it right. So publishers think, and debate, and then think some more.”

The Heroic Journey of the Requested Manuscript from Editorial Anonymous. PEEK: “Sometimes I fantasize about taking time out of my day to sit comfortably with my reading and a cup of coffee and give everything the time and consideration it deserves. And then I roll my eyes or snort or laugh a little hysterically (depending on my current emotional stability) and get back to answering emails.”

All Answers Are Yes from Editorial Anonymous. [On pre-contract revisions,] PEEK: “This is also a test: the good writers are the ones who are good at rewriting. Some people are only good at first drafts, or terrible at using feedback effectively, and I’d like to know that about someone before I commit to working with them for months/years and spending many thousands of dollars on their project.”

How Do Book Auctions Work? by Alvina Ling from Blue Rose Girls. PEEK: “In my experience, there are two main ways an agent will conduct an auction. Prior to the auction, the agent will generally send out an email outlining the rules of the auction. Sometimes this will include a request for a marketing plan. In general, the two types of auctions are Rounds, and the other is Best Offer.”

It Takes a Village to Acquire a Book from The World of Peachtree Publishers. PEEK: “When a book is to be brought to an acquisitions meeting, it is made available to everyone in our office for review, and in turn, we fill out readers reports.”

Editor Interview: Louise May by Gayleen Rabakukk from Cynsations. PEEK: “The idea for a poetry anthology can come from an editor, a poet, or an anthologizer.”

What Agents, Editors and Art Directors Look for Online from Debbie Ridpath Ohi. PEEK: “77% of respondents said that when they are considering taking on a new client, author and illustrator, they always research them online.” SEE ALSO, Debbie’s 2019 poll: What Editors and Agents Look For In Social Media.

Decline Letters 101 by Alvina Ling from Blue Rose Girls. Alvina breaks down the various degrees of feedback offered and what each means. PEEK: “…if you think of decline letters as a stepping stone to publication, that may make receiving them that much easier.”

Editing Process

What Does A Book Editor Do? Macmillan’s Rhoda Belleza Has Some Insight On The Covetable Job by Kerri Jarema from Bustle. PEEK: “‘…I’d say everything I do falls into three major categories,’ Belleza says. ‘Editing the book and supporting the author; advocating for the book and author; and networking and finding new content.'”

How to Become a Children’s Book Editor from Editorial Anonymous. PEEK: “People who are a good fit for the job have been reading a lot of children’s books (and a lot of different kinds of children’s books), and have a lot to say about them.”

So You Wanna Be a Children’s Book Editor by Alvina Ling from Blue Rose Girls. PEEK: “if you’re not able to relocate, you could research to see if there are any literary agents living nearby, and see if they need interns and/or manuscript readers.”

A Day in the Life of An Editor by Alvina Ling at Blue Rose Girls. PEEK: “If I’m not in a meeting, I’m mainly either responding to emails (including responding to authors and agents about submissions) or reviewing various materials in my inbox that are circulating, such as picture book mechanicals, proof, marketing materials, and so on.”

What Happens During the Editorial Process? by Janet S. Fox from Through the Wardrobe. PEEK: “The entire thing is a great deal more complicated than I’d thought. I knew there would be revisions–I love revisions! I’d already made a bunch of revisions with my agent. But this was something else. So here’s what happens…”

What Makes a Great First Page? by Alvina Ling from Blue Rose Girls. PEEK: “I can definitely gauge how talented a writer is based on the first page. In fact, because authors know the first page is so important, they tend to spend a lot of time revising that first page (if they’re smart!).”

We Ask An Editor: Emily Schultz by Megan Frazer from Crowe’s Nest. PEEK: “I often reread my letters and think, ‘Thank God she didn’t agree with me on that one.’ I write really long editorial letters with plenty of suggestions, but my real aim is to show authors potential in their stories they might not have realized. Sometimes they’re good ideas in themselves. But usually it’s the back-and-forth that propels the evolution of a story.”

Editor Donna Bray on Book Title Changes from Agent Kristin at Pub Rants. PEEK: “I have in the past stood up for a title that sales was unsure of—some felt, for instance, that WE ARE THE SHIP by Kadir Nelson was not obvious enough, even with the subtitle ‘The Story of Negro League Baseball.’ Every day, editors and publishers do support the vision and instincts of the creative people we work with—and we bump up regularly against the demands of the marketplace, which presents more and greater challenges daily.”

Editing Versus Copyediting from Nathan Bransford. PEEK: “…before you go and amend the complaint to “What was the copyeditor doing,” here’s how this process works (actual process may vary, but this is one example).”

Editor-Author Relationships

Editor Interview: Sarah Brian Discusses Collaboration by Salima Alikhan from Cynsations. PEEK: “I would like to allow the author to have their voice shine through. I feel like my role is to figure out the best way to coach each manuscript into its best possible form.”

Editor Interview: Arthur A. Levine on Levine Querido by Cynthia Leitich Smith from Cynsations. PEEK: “…I would recommend holding two truths in the front of your mind when editing a book by a person of a background different from yours. One is to start from a place of belief that you and the author have shared emotion and humanity.”